Stanford Medicine Newsletter Updates For the Local Community

Community matters

Christopher Dawes, president and CEO of Stanford Children's Health; Lloyd Minor, MD, dean of the Stanford School of Medicine; and David Entwistle, president and CEO of Stanford Health Care.

   

In the fall of 2014, Stanford Medicine emergency physician Colin Bucks, MD, risked his life by traveling into the heart of the Ebola crisis in West Africa to help treat stricken patients. He spent a month in a makeshift clinic in remote Liberia, working 14-hour days to save people infected by the virus, which also took the lives of many caregivers.

Bucks returned to California with invaluable insights about the virus and became a resource for hospitals around the country on how to manage a possible Ebola emergency here in the United States. His experience continues to help Stanford and other institutions prepare for future threats from new or evolving infections.

This is one example of how Stanford Medicine physicians are reaching out globally to provide care, conduct research and educate trainees and colleagues abroad. As a leading health care institution, we believe we have a responsibility as global citizens to contribute beyond our borders. It is in keeping with our mission of Precision Health — providing predictive, preventive and precise care that benefits everyone.

At home and abroad

Ultimately these global activities may help people at the local or national level by informing the work done here. Moreover, in this era of global travel, health emergencies that originate abroad can quickly become public health challenges at home.

Take, for instance, the recent outbreak of the Zika virus, which can cause serious birth defects in babies born to infected women. The outbreak began in Brazil and quickly moved north into the United States. Stanford researchers’ experience in working with similar, mosquito-borne viruses in Africa proved to be an asset. During the crisis, our experts in pediatric infectious disease advised the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and helped provide guidance for pediatricians around the country on how to care for pregnant mothers and their babies who could be at risk.

Stanford Medicine physicians are contributing to global health in myriad other ways. Over the last decade, our emergency medicine physicians played an instrumental role in helping India develop its first 911-type emergency medical system, which now serves three quarters of the country. Our physicians and nurses also are on the front lines of humanitarian disasters, having served in rescue efforts in Haiti, the Philippines and Nepal. They return home with eyes opened to the range of human experience and as practitioners better equipped to deal with emergencies in the United States.

Prevention and training

On the research side, our scientists have played a major role in the development of the first, low-cost vaccine for rotavirus, a diarrheal disease that kills some 500,000 children a year. Our immunology experts have an ongoing collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop a whole new generation of vaccines to combat the world’s most deadly infections.

We also are helping to build research and training programs in countries with fragile health care systems through programs like the federally funded Medical Education Partnership Initiative in sub-Saharan Africa. And we provide a variety of opportunities for trainees to work in developing nations where they help fill the health care gap while honing essential skills that will serve them well in treating patients here at home.

Investing in the future

Recently we have been planning a major initiative on planetary climate change, which has been called the biggest global health threat of the 21st century. Our goal is to establish a U.S. plan to monitor global weather patterns and their impact on health, conduct research to help adapt to those changes, and invest in programs to strengthen international preparedness and response.

Our mission in global health is the same one that inspires us here at home: to provide the most expert, innovative and compassionate care to patients, regardless of where they live. Thinking globally impacts lives locally.

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